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Questions About Virtual Staging

Published: 08/12/2014
By: larry

FurnitureRussell in Portland asks some questions about virtual staging:

During the slow winter months I've been going through my past shoots collecting "digital furnishings" in an effort to build a library for "virtual staging". I don't see anyone in my area offering this service, but there is a handful found on the web. I have a couple questions about the practice of virtual staging:

Am I within the RMLS rules when I add furnishings? My feeling is that if I don't make any changes to "permanent" items, such as telephone poles, wires or walls, I'm within the limits. Some agents question ANY changes.

Next, it looks to me like these "other" virtual staging companies don't do the actual photography, but edit existing images. Isn't this a direct violation of U.S. copyright laws?

First of all, my sense is that virtual staging isn't all that popular. Here is my guess why:
  1. It's hard to do well. So those that do it well charge a fair amount. Sure, it's less than actually getting the home staged but by the majority of agents standards it's expensive. You'd have to charge as much for virtual staging as you do a shoot since it's time-consuming.
  2. Virtual staging only addresses half the vacant listing problem. When a potential buyer arrives they still see a vacant home. My personal experience is that real staging really pays off. My wife and I used to spend about $1500 to $2000 to stage the main rooms of a vacant listing back in 1999 to 2008 and it was well worth the expense. Having the home staged when the buyer is walking through the home is important!
I doubt that virtual staging violates any MLS rules or any copyright laws as long as you own the copyright to the furniture images that you use to do it with. To see if your local agents would even pay for it, you'd have to test it in your area. My guess is it wouldn't be worthwhile unless you supplied it worldwide and competed with companies like who are really good at it.
Anyone else have any insights or experience with virtual staging?

4 comments on “Questions About Virtual Staging”

  1. I started doing virtual staging a few years ago to supplement my RE photography business for vacant homes. This last year I became the national sales/training manager for VisualStager which is a DiY virtual staging platform. About half the users are photographers. At $8-10 per image to stage a room with an average markup of $60-75, its a good extra source of income at an average of 5 rooms per home . Because furniture needs to be rotated in a 360 degree fashion it makes it almost impossible to take pieces of furniture from shoots to use. Most MLS's still allow these however some staging businesses are making irresponsible edits like changing colors, flooring, window coverings, landscaping, adding attached bookshelves... etc.. and other things that convey with the home. That may damage the integrity downline! I don't see copyrights as an issue again if the agent gets copyright permission from the photographer to stage certain pics. For a photographer with a wide angle lens I believe the staging can look very good after a little practice. When I am shooting a vacant home I just mention it to the seller or agent that it can help the MLS marketing. Also tours are now "interactive" allowing viewers to move,change and edit furniture within the tour. This eliminates the issue of the home still being empty when buyers get to the home. If you have any other questions or need more info. about the self staging platform go to or feel free to contact me at

  2. I've tried VisualStager, spend $100 and unfrtunately the selection was very limited. For me it was a waste of a $100, but I don't think they offer money back. We have never made any money with this system, but rather just tried to create a portfolio that we could use on our site for advertisement of Virtual Staging.
    I wonder if there is some other options besides VisualStager.

  3. @marek. I understand marek, VisualStager has only been out of Beta a few months and is building inventory while streamlining the platform. This is definitely doable for photographers because it is all dependent on good photos. I have had no problem making fairly realistic staged rooms at a rate of 2-3 per hour using the software. I will be happy to get some credits for you and help you troubleshoot the staging that you were trying to add to your pics. It's tricky to make a platform that does all this but VisualStager is getting there.

  4. Thanks for mentioning virtual staging as a great marketing tool to sell a vacant home! Keep in mind that virtual staging is not a way to replace traditional home staging services but a more economical marketing tool for agents and sellers to be able to show buyers the potential of a home, digitally. Although I do not believe in altering the photos of the home as far as changing wall colors, moving walls and adding fixtures. As an agent, professional home stager and Pioneer of virtual staging, my company believes in virtual staging that abides by the Realtor code of ethics of a true representation of the property. This service is merely used to give buyers a better understanding of how to layout a room and make vacant photos of a home online more attractive and recognizable. And yes making sure each photo displays that the home has been virtually staged so buyers are aware is very important and my company has a strict policy on that! I am just glad to see that our #virtual #staging service has made a name for itself in the real estate world and is here to stay! Before you take a stab or buy a CAD decorating software program contact as we are professional home stagers and pioneers of our patent-pending virtual staging service that sells vacant homes faster anywhere in the world! KRISZTINA BELL, Professional Home Stager, Pioneer of Virtual Staging & Real Estate Marketing Consultant

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